The sloth dweller in South America got its name for a reason, because it is indeed one of the slowest representatives of the animal world (although turtles and other snails can compete with this title), and still the slowest among mammals. The sloths are perfectly shown in the beautiful children’s animated cartoon “Zveropolis”, where the natural slowness of these creatures was ingeniously compared to the slowness of some civil servants.
Well, a cartoon animated cartoon, and in our today’s article we will describe these sloths living in natural conditions.
Sloth: description, structure, characteristics. What does a sloth look like?
The appearance of the sloth is the most amazing and unique, it is not like any other representative of the animal world. Even their closest relatives from the squad of not-to-toothed men are anteaters (by the way, also with an amazing appearance) and armadillos are completely unlike them.
A characteristic feature of the sloth is the presence of a special finger in the form of hooks. There are usually three fingers for a sloth, but there are species that have only two. These fingers are not only for the sake of beauty, they are in fact very strong and tenacious, with their help sloths can easily hang on the branches of trees, where they spend most of their lives.
The dimensions of the sloths are not large: the body length of this animal is usually 50-60 cm, weight 4-6 kg. The body of the sloth is covered with wool, which has a brown-gray color.
The head of the sloth is small and also covered with hair, sometimes so strong that only the eyes of the animal are visible. On the whole, the face of the sloth is somehow reminiscent of either Star Wars’ Chubak, or just an unusual shaggy monkey. An interesting fact: the teeth of the sloth are devoid of enamel, however, they are all equal as for selection.
Do sloths have a tail? Yes, there is, but they have it very small, so that under the thick hair it is almost invisible.
The nature gave these beasts an excellent sense of smell, but with other senses it didn’t work out very well: sloths have poorly developed vision and hearing. Also of small size and their brain, the small size of which probably play a role in their slowness, but on the other hand these animals are always calm, good-natured, phlegmatic.
The internal structure of the sloth’s body is not the same as in other mammals, for example, the liver is located closer to the back, the spleen is on the right, their stomach and intestines are disproportionately larger, and this is no accident. The fact is that sloths are very clean animals, and in order to cope with need, they descend from trees to the ground, where they become defenseless before predators who do not like to eat them. To minimize this risk, sloths need less frequently, on average once a week, and can do so thanks to a larger stomach.
The sloth’s movement looks very comical on the ground, and all because of long fingers with large hooks, the impression is made that the sloths try with great effort to overcome even the smallest obstacle. The speed of a sloth on the ground is only a few meters per minute!
But oddly enough, sloths are excellent swimmers, they swim many times faster than they move by land.
It is also interesting that sloths have one of the lowest body temperatures among mammals, it averages from 30 to 33 degrees, and sometimes drops to 24 degrees. Such a low temperature is due to the fact that the metabolism of the sloths is extremely slow.
And sloths justify their name not only by sluggishness, but also with a good sleep in love. Yes, they are big dormouse, how many sloth sleeps per day? Usually they sleep from 10 to 15 hours a day, which is also rare in the animal world. And it is interesting that sometimes sloths sleep, just hanging on the branches of a tree upside down.
Like this sleeping sloth.
Where the sloth dwells
Sloths because of low body temperature, they are very fond of heat and, as a result, live exclusively in the warm, tropical regions of Central and South America: they are found in Brazil, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay, Panama, in northern Argentina. As habitats, they always choose dense forests where they feel comfortable among tree crowns.
What sloths eat
Sloths are good-natured herbivores, their main food is the various leaves and fruits that grow right under their nose. Lazy people do not need to get food for themselves, look for prey, juicy tropical fruits growing in their habitats, no less lush foliage, can be a source for them, both food and moisture.
Enemies of sloths
And now the sloths themselves, in turn, can be articles for food for various predators of South America, primarily for the anaconda, puma, jaguar and his melanirovannogo panther congener. Predators, as a rule, attack sloths at the moment when they descend from trees, on which they are in relative safety, to the ground. As we wrote above on the ground, sloths descend mainly in order to cope with great need, and at that moment the very danger lurks them.
Since ancient times, man has also been the eternal enemy of the sloth: American Indians have been hunting sloths for centuries, finding their meat tasty and nutritious. However, the American Indians, unlike the white man, cherished nature and did not kill more with a sloth than they need for food.
How many sloths live
Life expectancy of a sloth in natural conditions is 10-20 years. As for captivity, there were cases when sloths in the zoo lived to 32 years.
Sloths are really lazy and phlegmatic animals, most of the time they spend snoring on the branches. Also, sloths love and appreciate loneliness, and they are rarely found in groups or even at least two individuals together. But if the lazy people still get to meet their own kind, then, thanks to the good nature and peaceful nature of these animals, they will never show even the slightest signs of aggression, will feed themselves quietly or sleep beside them. The sloth can express maximum discontent with a loud puff.
Types of sloths, photos and titles
In general, in nature there are six types of sloths, of which four species belong to the three-toed sloths, in which three fingers and two kinds of sloths are available, are two-toed sloths. Below we describe the most interesting of them.
This species could be called a sloth ordinary, as it is, in fact, the most typical and common representative of the genus of sloths. All described above concerns, first of all, three-toed sloths.
A characteristic difference of this three-toed sloth is its small size (as a result, such a name), it is the smallest of the sloths, its body length is on average 40 cm, and its weight is no more than 2-3 kg. In all other respects, except for the size, it looks like its big three-toed relative.
As you guessed, this type of sloth is at the disposal of one finger less than that of its closest relatives. Despite the absence of one finger, the two-toed sloth also keeps well on the branches of trees, like its close relatives. In all other respects, the two-toed sloth is similar to the three-toed.
How do sloths breed? Depending on the species, the mating season for these animals occurs at different times. So three-fingered sloths usually start mating in spring, in March-April, but two-fingered relatives can do this thing all year round.
The pregnancy of the female sloth lasts six months, after which only one calf is born. Moreover, it is interesting that the birth of the sloths takes place right on the tree – having caught the forepaws on the branch, the female hangs vertically downwards, and in this position gives birth to the baby.
Barely born, the little sloth grabs the mom’s coat and quickly finds her breast in search of milk. On breastfeeding sloths can be up to two years, only after this period getting used to solid food. Mummy sloth, as a rule, is caring and tender to his cub, but papa-sloth does not interest his offspring in any way.
Interesting facts about sloths
- It was the lazy set the world record for the slowest bowel movement, it lasts the longest, but on the other hand, it is carried out no more than once a week.
- Even after death, many sloths sometimes remain hanging on a branch, so tenacious is their grip.
- Recently, sloths have become tamed by people, and you can even meet owners who have their own domestic sloth as a pet, like a cat or a dog. And why not, because sloths are good-natured, unpretentious, sleep most of the time and will not cause any particular inconvenience.
And at the end we offer you to watch an interesting documentary video about lazy people in Panama.